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Rider Improvement - What There Is to Learn

Keith Code

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Rider Improvement

What There Is to Learn

I’d like to point out some things about riders and rider training. Below is a list of six categories of riders and how they regard the idea of training and rider improvement. The next section covers the results; the kinds of things we look for and you should expect from rider training.

The Six Categories of Riders

1.   Ones that have tried to improve, failed at it and lost interest. They're basically locked-up on the whole subject of rider improvement–they don't want to know about it.

2.   Riders that say there is nothing to learn. This category of rider often says that seat time will handle it. They'll change the subject or politely dismiss what you have to say about training.

3.   Those that actively speak against training. ‘Hey, you just get on the bike and do it. I don't crash, what is there to learn...don't waste your money on a school buy a nice pipe instead. Schools suck.’ These guys are foolishly antagonistic.    

4.   Those that have a vague desire to improve but lack information about how to. They have a want but it goes unfulfilled. For one reason or another, this rider just doesn't take the next step. They HOPE it will get better.

5.   Those that become interested in learning more. They will talk about improvement. They will listen to advice but still remain passive. This might be the most dangerous of all the categories because this rider will listen to just about anything.  They might hear, ‘you don't know how fast you can go until you crash’, and actually try it! 

6.   Riders who do something to improve. Here you find the rider who reads articles, goes to track days in search of answers or comes to a school. They make a commitment to improve and take definite steps to do it. 

Most riders are in one of the above categories on the subject of rider improvement.

What There is to Learn

It's no secret that I am in the business of training riders. I do it because I know it works and over the past 39 years of doing it I've noticed a few things about riders who take the plunge to improve. The following is what we have observed in our students.

Once a rider is trained, they begin to handle cornering problems and situations on their own. They understand and make sensible corrections that actually correct. Riders who are trained can read the feedback the bike is giving them easier than those who are not trained. They can identify and communicate to someone what the bike is doing.

Trained riders can spot what is wrong in their riding and tend to not make the same mistakes over and over. Also, training brings about control over the "knee jerk" reactions that cause riders to make dangerous errors. 

Riders who are trained have a solid foundation of skills and the knowledge and certainty that their riding won't get worse. They can still make mistakes but it doesn't defeat them. Additionally, trained riders can actually offer constructive help to others who want to improve. If a rider is turning in too early or too late, has poor throttle control or is rushing the corners and making it worse, the trained rider can spot it.

Riders who look uncomfortable are uncomfortable. Trained riders look as though they are more a part of the bike. And as a bonus, racing fans gain an appreciation and an even greater respect for what professional riders can do because they can see what the pro is doing and why.

 My riding instructors are trained to observe these points and the really amazing thing is we see changes like these in every student.

 What we Know

Confidence comes from knowing that the bike will do what you want it to do when you want it to do it. Once a rider improves, and knows why and what they have improved, it opens the door to virtually unlimited improvement.

 Knee-jerk reactions only happen to riders when they don't have the right skill or technique for the situation at hand. Training strips away confusions and complexities. When riding feels simple, control is simple. When control is simple any rider has confidence.

Effort or Training        

Truly enthusiastic riders do have the urge to improve.  Unfortunately, a great many of them waste their riding time and their money hoping that seat time will handle it. That doesn't mean they aren't going to improve, it means that it will take longer, cost more and the results will be sketchy. Most likely there will be a lot of misguided effort involved.

Which is likely to be most effective, rider training or simply trying harder? Will experience alone sweep away those uncertainties? Will more emotional effort get you the level of control you want? Training and expert coaching are what we offer and it works.

Keith Code

PS: Our 2019 schedule is at <www.superbikeschool.com>, log on, sign up and I'll see you at the track.

© CSS, Inc., 2018, all rights reserved

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Great article. I have met people from all six of the categories you show above! I was in the #4 group for a while. Then I took Level 1 at CSS and it made a HUGE difference in my riding... but I thought all schools would be that good and went to some other schools and got a lot of general riding advice and was kind of in category #5 for a while. Then I came back to CSS and did Levels 2 and 3 and made massive improvements again  - and right after that I was bumped up at my local track days from the "slow" group to the "intermediate" group and then right into the "fast" group. What a difference! I can't wait to come back for Level 4.

I know I've tried the "just try harder" approach lots of times and all I get is frustrated. Coming to school helps my riding more in one day that a year of practicing on my own, you guys do a great job.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

As I prepare and pack for my two days coming up at Streets of Willow, 3/12 and 3/13, I keep coming back to Keith’s articles and the forum to try and pick up any last second tips and ideas while I try to maximize my hard-earned dollars. For some reason, I keep coming back and thinking about the categories of riders and in particular number #6.

 “Riders who do something to improve. Here you find the rider who reads articles, goes to track days in search of answers or comes to a school. They make a commitment to improve and take definite steps to do it.” 

I  feel that I’m a decent rider, but at the same time feel that the more I learn about the “art” of riding, the more questions I have and the more I NEED to learn in order to become a more efficient, safer and by default, a faster rider. As much as I think I know something about throttle control, vision or body position I know there is a way in which I can improve and become more efficient. Level 1 and 2 definitely improved my riding, so I’m hoping that attending the upcoming school will make another measurable impact.

 I have several street and track riding friends and acquaintances who fall into 4 and 5. They just don’t see the need or have the motivation to fundamentally improve their riding skill, OR,  don’t think that they need to improve. I have trouble understanding this logic.

 I often wonder why I have such a passion for riding, no doubt being on a bike in the mountains or riding at a new track is invigorating, but I think a large part of the passion is the ability to always work on my riding skill, become a more astute rider and seek out answers, and sometimes for questions I didn’t even know existed. In this case, I’m content on being #6.  

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There is a 7th group IMHO, and that would be the determined thinkers and innovaters like Mr. Code himself and å number of great racers. They are few and far between, relatively speaking, but they are the ones bringing clarification and taking knowledge to the next level. 


Good for the rest of us.

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  • 3 months later...

Great article Keith. As you know,  I had 35 years of mostly daily street and commuter riding before I discovered the track last year. I have done 6 days with you now and have 4 more booked this year. I have many bad habits ,but think I am in the #6 category above. I have learned a ton for you and your team, and become addicted to track more than the street as a result! 🙂 THX YOU

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